Living Up to the Hype: How the WWE has put insurmountable pressure on the Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell

Hey guys. Did you know I’m a man? I know, I know, shocking.

Yes, I did start this post paraphrasing my friend and colleague, Gabby, who is very gracious to let me scratch my journalism itch on her wrestling blog. I started it the same way she started her post entitled Mick Foley’s RAW promo & benevolent sexism because it seems my friend has stirred up a little drama amongst some chatrooms (these still exist??) and I wanted to come to her aid and defend her h….. HAHAHAHAHAHA!! I can’t even finish writing that satiric sentence. I started this post the same way she started her’s because I’m a man and she’s a woman and we both share the same opinion about the Sasha/Charlotte/Mick promo Monday night.

per·cep·tion (pərˈsepSH(ə)n) noun:
A way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
As Gabby stated in her post, Mick Foley the man is a proponent of women’s wrestling. However, Foley’s promo Monday night came off as condescending toward Sasha and Charlotte. Do I think Foley meant it as condescending? I don’t. This is where perception comes to play. An over-emoting Foley (I could go on about this, but that’s another post for another time) interrupting, coddling and yelling at the two Superstars gave the perception that Hell in a Cell is no place for women.
We’ve been given the perception the past few weeks that the only place for Roman Reigns and Rusev, as well as Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, to settle their feuds is inside the cell. But when is comes to Sasha and Charlotte’s feud (which has been built up way better than the Universal and United States Championships by the way), it’s been “Are you SURE you want to settle this inside the cell? It can get brutal.” Intentional or not, the WWE has been giving these three matches (you know, the TRIPLE TRIPLE TRIPLE main event) a double standard. It could have been an easy fix.
Instead of Foley playing over-protective dad to Sasha and Charlotte, he could have built up their feud to where these women’s hatred, yet respect for one another can only be settled in a way that no women have ever settled their feuds before… Hell in a Cell!! Instead of Foley talking about how the cell made him a “shell of a man,” he could have talked about how the 1998 King of the Ring defined his career and made him the superstar he is today, and it will do the same thing to the women. Or, if he wanted to talk about the dangers of Hell in a Cell, then bring all nine competitors out for a TRIPLE CONTRACT SIGNING (see what I did there??) and give his speech to all of them.
Foley’s speech was heartfelt, but Sasha and Charlotte were not the only two superstars who needed to hear it. That is where the sexism lies, and if Gabby and I perceived it as sexism, then I guarantee there are many more in the WWE Universe who perceived it the same way. They just aren’t in wrestling chatrooms. (Seriously, are you accessing these through AOL 3.0 or 4.0? Using dial-up to pull up these articles to trash them must take FOREVER. That must be why you aren’t actually reading them.)
All of that brings me to my point in which this post is titled: Sasha and Charlotte now face insurmountable pressure at Hell in a Cell to perform. If their match doesn’t end with bodies bloodied or carried out on a stretcher (a work or not), will it be seen as a great match in the eyes of the WWE Universe? Whenever we talk about great matches in the Women’s Revolution era, we always start with Sasha vs. Bayley at NXT Takeover: New York. We all agreed it was match (not women’s match) of the decade. Then when we think it couldn’t get better, we get Sasha vs. Bayley in a 30 minute Ironwoman match. Instantly, we had a new match (not women’s match) of the decade. Both these matches were hyped by using their talent, not “Are you SURE you want to use cool moves that most women don’t use and actually wrestle for a championship? Are you SURE you want to settle this in an Iron(wo)man match?” Now, it’s all about “making history, danger, and shells of former selves.” This match should be hyped… hell it should be THE SOLE MAIN EVENT and last match of the pay-per-view, but it should not be attached to the stigma of “you’re women, so if you don’t do something absolutely crazy and maybe draw blood, then it’s not going to be as historic as we billed it to be.”
If you’ve made it this far down, here is where I link Foley’s promo to the unrealistic expectations of this match.
With all due respect, Sasha, you have no idea what’s in store for you! Because once that cell descends, once that monstrosity descends upon you, it is not just steel. It’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s a living, breathing entity but it’s got no soul, no heart and no conscious. And it will haunt for days. It will keep you awake at night. Trust me, trust me. Just when you think you’re over it for good, it will sneak up behind you. It will stop you dead in your tracks. It will make you cry like a child. It’s an intimidating fact that when you’re in that cell, you face not one opponent but two. You face your opponent and that demonic construction itself.
– Mick Foley
We all know Foley’s history with Hell in a Cell matches. He’s jumped off them, been choked slammed through them, broke bones, lost teeth, lost ears, and probably lost years of his life because of them. We the WWE Universe love him for it. We adore him for it. We respect him for it. Someone who puts his body on the line for our entertainment and enjoyment deserves all of this and more. But since he hammered all of this stuff on Sasha and Charlotte during their contract signing, what do we expect of the women? We’ve seen cell matches where no one fell off the cell or went through it and we called them subpar. The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon match at Wrestlemania XXXI was really not that good, but we call it one of the best because Shane-O-Mac dove off the cell for our enjoyment.
If Sasha isn’t thrown through the cell or Charlotte doesn’t flip herself off the top of the cell on to the announce table, will the match be any good? Can the women have a technical wrestling match inside the cell and it be good enough, or does Sasha have to rub Charlotte’s face against the cell and open her up a la 80s and 90s Ric Flair? According to the hype, the pressure seems to be all on to perform to Foley-esc expectations. We have excepted that Foley-esc expectations are unfair to Roman, Rusev, Seth and Kevin. Let’s also ignore the hype and realize it’s also unfair for Sasha and Charlotte.
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Mick Foley’s RAW promo & benevolent sexism

Hey, guys. Did you know I’m a woman? I know, I know, shocking. Well, as a woman, I have a plethora of life experiences that have shaped the person I am today. I have been groped by a stranger in public. I have been patronized and looked down on because of my gender. Why am I saying this? Well, because sexism is a reality in my life that I am aware of with every breath I take. And that reality has spurred me to write about what I saw on RAW tonight.

I’ll cut to the chase: when Mick Foley began to passionately beg Sasha and Charlotte to reconsider their historic Hell in a Cell match on Monday Night RAW, I was horrified.

Mick Foley has long been a supporter of the women’s divisions on both shows. He has voiced support for the women of WWE for years. He is an ally for women in the company in so many countless ways. Outside of the ring, he’s even more of an ally, supporting organizations such as RAINN tirelessly.

AGAIN, LET ME BE CLEAR: I LOVE MICK FOLEY. So that’s why I was so saddened by what transpired on the final RAW leading into Hell in a Cell.

DISCLAIMER: I am aware that Mick Foley the man is probably thrilled with the women going into Hell in a Cell. I am aware he does not write his promos. But here’s the truth of it all: his championing of women’s wrestling has been woven into the character he plays on TV. And so far, his character on TV has been disappointing for fans of women’s wrestling.

Yes, we got a RAW Women’s Championship match as the main event of RAW that had the crowd on its feet. But merely one week later the only women’s segments on the flagship show are an arm wrestling match and a contract signing. A contract signing which was hijacked by Mr. Foley’s character.

Benevolent Sexism

Now, Foley’s delivery was fantastic. He has a real passion for the business and it shows whenever he has a mic in hand. But his words, on the other hand, were the textbook definition of benevolent sexism.

You see, sexism isn’t just slaps on the sass or catcalls. It’s not just calling someone a nasty woman. It’s the subtle things too.

Benevolent sexism may seem harmless, noble, or even “romantic,” but its effects can be devastating. Benevolent sexism, like hostile sexism, is an ideology that supports gender inequality, and in some ways benevolent sexism can be even more insidious.

-UnderstandingPrejudice.org

Things like saying women should be cherished and protected, as if we all fit neatly into traditional gender roles and stereotypes. It’s the paradox of toxic masculinity that tells boys they need to protect women but also be dominant sexually.

So how does this all factor into Foley’s promo? Well first, let’s examine how the other two Hell in a Cell matches (in a triple main event, which could get its own blog) were built on the very same RAW.

Roman Reigns vs. Rusev & Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins

The build to this feud has its own problems (Fighting for your wife’s honor? Really?) but the buildup tot he Hell in a Cell match has been focused on each competitor being willing to put their opponent through intense physical punishment.

Not once is it ever brought into question whether or not the men know what’s in store for them. Admittedly, Reigns does know what it’s like to be inside Hell in a Cell…in a match with no bloodshed. But regardless, his ability to put his body on the line is never brought into question. Instead, the focus is on the men themselves.

Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins’ rivalry is a bit more complex. Not only is the Universal Championship involved, but also ingrained in their plot is the Triple H angle and the rising personal animosity between Rollins and Owens.

The buildup to their Hell in a Cell match has been an exchange of threats. Rollins passionately promised to render Owens unable to move by their match’s end. That anger and animosity is the centerpiece of their feud. Well, that and Chris Jericho.

So, in short, the men hyped their matches by promising to take their opponents to hell and back. The usual.

And now, the women…

Sasha Banks and Charlotte are under an enormous amount of pressure. They are in a first of its kind match (for WWE), and if their match is subpar, there will be fans saying that women should never be allowed to be in these matches.

Never mind the plethora of disappointing men’s Hell in a Cell matches over the years.

The last impression on RAW before a PPV is important. It sets the tone for their impending match. So WWE, in their boundless wisdom, decided to have Mick Foley tearfully beg them to reconsider their match.

…..what?

This wasn’t the same Foley who warned Ambrose and Rollins that they weren’t ready for life after Hell in a Cell.

Foley then was determined, almost daring Ambrose and Rollins to live up to his legacy. There is a difference between warning and coddling, after all. And Ambrose and Rollins both emerged from the segment unfazed.

On paper, his promo with Sasha and Charlotte seems similar. But contextualized, it’s a completely different animal.

For starters, his interruptions were yelled right in their faces, which is just unsettling. Additionally, they took away from what little screentime the women had at all. Remember, in this episode the only women’s segments weren’t even matches. So to inject Mick Foley so completely into the contract signing was just another nail in the coffin.

But most importantly: his words were patronizing.

Foley begged the women to not go into their Hell in a Cell match unless they were ready to sign away years of their life. He emotionally recounted meeting Charlotte as a little girl and Sasha’s love of Eddie Guerrero. He didn’t even want to give the women their contract.

Oh, and earlier in the preshow Jerry Lawler suggested that the girls should be scared. YUP.

What’s so bad about that?

  1. It’s patronizing. You think that, in storyline, Sasha and Charlotte are not absolutely aware of what they’re getting into? You think that these two women needed to be told in the final segment before their HISTORIC match that they weren’t ready? How many times has this happened to women in male-dominated professions? Answer: all too much. It’s not the same as when he warns the men because undercutting women with ambition is a systemic and societal problem.
  2. It enforces gender stereotypes. The women NEED to be protected. They NEED to be warned. They’re getting too ambitious and need to be reined back in by a man of authority.
  3. It made the women’s segment about a man. Guys, Charlotte and Sasha are going to tear each other apart but MICK FOLEY DOESN’T HAVE A HIP SOCKET.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t interrupted them multiple times. Maybe then it wouldn’t have felt like mansplaining. But the truth of the matter is that Mick wouldn’t have been scripted to be so concerned for Roman or Seth. Foreboding, yes, but not concerned.

Sasha and Charlotte are in a difficult spot as it is. They’re in a ridiculous triple main event when they should be the main event: period. They have to craft a gimmick match for skeptical marks. And now, their match has to overcome incredible pressure not just from fans, but from an overly protective authority figure.

I have no doubt they will put on an incredible match. I have faith in them. And that is what their GM should have said. He should be building them up (as the real Foley would do) instead of insinuating their ignorance.

But hey, why am I even upset? We ARE in a women’s revolution, aren’t we?

Aren’t we?

 

Bilbs’ Top 10 Lists for Tonight’s RAW

I thought I would write these lists while watching the October 24th edition of Monday Night RAW so you can read it with all of the intensity that I have while watching this episode. Here we go:

Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons the Brock Lesnar Segment was needed on RAW

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Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons an Over-Emoting Mick Foley Helped the Sasha/Charlotte Hell in a Cell Match

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Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons Why a “Triple Main Event” Makes Total Sense

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Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons to Love Tonight’s RAW

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So in conclusion, this episode of RAW SUCKED.

However, let’s end this on a positive note…

Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons to watch Hell in a Cell this Sunday

1. Sasha/Charlotte
2. Charlotte/Sasha
3. Sasha/Charlotte
4. Charlotte/Sasha
5. Sasha/Charlotte
6. Charlotte/Sasha
7. Sasha/Charlotte
8. Charlotte/Sasha
9. Sasha/Charlotte
10. Charlotte/Sasha

I’m out.

RAW Recap/Analysis – February 22, 2016

Well, Fastlane happened, and wonder of wonders, the status quo has remained the same. Roman Reigns is set to face Triple H in the main event of Wrestlemania. Every champion retained. No face or heel turns.

Not to say that there weren’t some amazing things that happened at Fastlane. The matches were solid, the talent all delivered. Unfortunately, it’s the creative team that dropped the ball.

However, tonight’s RAW almost made up for it, delivering solid entertainment, fun matches, and one absolutely wild surprise that has shaken fans to the core.

The McMahon Legacy

You guys. YOU GUYS.

Vince emerged to start off the show, and presented, to no one’s surprise, the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award to Stephanie. However, soon enough, Shane freaking McMahon emerged to an absolutely thunderous ovation, and demanded control of Monday Night RAW, citing the downhill spiral the WWE has been going down. Sending Stephanie off, Vince agreed, on the condition that Shane win one match, one night.

At this point, I tweeted this:

And then . . .

Vince announced the match would be against, holy hell, the Undertaker, and would be a Hell in a Cell match.

I am in awe. Shane’s re-emergence was an absolutely delightful surprise, and the prospect of him managing RAW is extremely exciting, let me say. A non-heel authority figure is exactly what the WWE desperately needs, and the on-screen acknowledgment of the company’s dismal performance in ratings was a welcome one.

Neville & the Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day

The Lucha Dragons dominated Xavier Woods early on, and Neville impressed as well, working Woods’ armlike crazy before Kingston  and Big E both tagged in, regaining the champions’ momentum, all of them tagging in and beating down Neville with the Unicorn Stampede.

The New Day remained dominant for several minutes on poor Neville, who couldn’t get to the Lucha Dragons in time for the hot tag  for a while before Neville finally tagged Sin Cara in to the match. The Luchador delivered, with both Kalisto and Big E interfering. Woods and Neville got into it as well, and soon, everyone was brawling.

But it was Kofi Kingston who would pick up the win after some mask shenanigans, and the heels left the ring victorious.

No Holds Barred

Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar came out to acknowledge the online-captured beating Brock Lesnar rained down on Dean Ambrose before the show’s start. Heyman recapped Lesnar’s near-submission of Roman Reigns, and called out Ambrose for breaking that up with his chair shots. Heyman called Lesnar’s beating plain and simple revenge.

Heyman raged about Ambrose before proclaiming that his client needs a new client for Wrestlemania, and told everyone who could hear that his client would leave a trail of destruction everywhere he went.

Just then, an ambulance burst into the arena, driven by none other than everyone’s favorite Lunatic Fringe: Dean Ambrose, neck brace and all. Dean staggered out of the ambulance and onto the entrance ramp and to ringside, where Lesnar looked down on him before stepping over his face to leave him behind.

But Dean wasn’t done, telling Lesnar that he was indestructible, and he would find out at Wrestlemania in a street fight. Lesnar’s response? An F-5. And a yes from Paul Heyman.

The Usos vs.The Ascension

As the Usos entered for their match against the Ascension, the Dudleys  came out, slamming the Usos and bringing Rikishi into the mix, allowing the Ascension to take an early lead in the match.

But the Usos wouldn’t be down for long, regaining control soon enough and getting the pinfall as the Dudley Boyz looked on.

This rivalry seems to be picking up some steam, which should provide both teams with a direction as we approach Wrestlemania.

Y2AJ vs. The Social Outcasts

Jericho emerged, mic in hand, and proceeded to talk about AJ Styles, putting him over utterly and completely, acknowledging his loss and calling Styles out to the ring. Styles came out to a phenomenal ovation from the crowd, and Jericho congratulated him, saying he had what it takes to go right to the top.

Then, the Social Outcasts came out, mocking all the good vibes in the ring, pointing out that AJ made Jericho tap out and that Jericho said a lot of crap about Styles. Mocking the newfound peace between the two, they demanded that the two former opponents get out of “their” ring.

Jericho cut them off, and a match was born, as was a brand new team.

Styles started off dominantly before the numbers game turned the tide, however a tagged in Jericho brought some momentum back to their side. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho and Styles took out the rest of the Outcasts as they tried to interfere, and just like that, Y2AJ captured the win.

As enjoyable as this teamup is to watch, I hope these two talented performers do not get stuck in a tag team together. If the tag division was deeper, stronger, then I’d be all for it, but as it stands, Styles is a singles star, hands down.

Backstage, Stephanie announced to Reigns that he would be fighting Sheamus (and likely the rest of the League of Nations). And Goldust approached R-Truth with an apology cake. Truth, however, wanted no part in a tag team with Goldust, walking away after shoving the cake in Goldust’s face.

The Wyatt Family vs. Ryback, Kane & Big Show

Funny note: the Wyatts all put their masks on Byron Saxton at the start of the match. I enjoyed it immensely.

The match started off to a chorus of “BORING” chants, and honestly, I don’t completely disagree. These teams have no real chemistry.

Even Ryback got bored, simply walking away from the match, allowing Bray Wyatt to get the win after pinning a distracted Kane. Backstage, Ryback declared he was done being in tag teams.

Sasha Banks vs. Naomi

In an impressively athletic rematch, Naomi took the early lead, laying a brutal beating on Sasha with the help of Tamina. But she couldn’t keep the Boss down for long, fighting back with fierce physicality despite additional distractions from Tamina.

However, Lynch arrived to even the odds, allowing Sasha to lock in the Banks Statement on Naomi. The two Divas shook hands, and then Charlotte herself emerged in Bella-like gear, and informed them that there would be a number one contender’s match for the “honor” of facing her at Wrestlemania.

Smug at the chaos she knows will ensue, Charlotte backed away.

I, for one, am still holding out hope for a Triple Threat match.

Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus

Ah, yes, the feud nobody wanted to see ever again. Reigns fought as valiantly as he always does, working through interference after interference. However, soon enough, the officiall threw them out and the match evened out.

With the odds less stacked against him, Reigns rallied back, nearly scoring a win by countout, but then the Game himself emerged, dressed for battle.The two brawled at ringside, Triple H dishing out a rough punishment on the contender to his throne, throwing him into the bell and announce table, bloodying up the Samoan before a group of officials pulled him aside.

Even then, he wasn’t done, hitting a Pedigree on steel steps and holding up his title to close the show to thunderous applause.

Yeah, great booking of faces and heels, Creative!

Honestly, I pity Roman Reigns. The man is a decent wrestler and seems like a good guy, but he is so horrendously that in what is supposed to be his triumphant rise to the top has become a glaring showcase of everything wrong with the WWE today. Booked right, the man could very well be the face of the WWE, but the WWE jumped the gun, pushing him ahead of other, more prepared and talented wrestlers like, yes, Ambrose.

The WWE has got to start listening to their fanbase. Sure, push Roman Reigns, but do it right. This current formula is not working.

Maybe Shane could fix this, eh?

 

 

Hell in a Cell 2015 Recap/Analysis

Much like Creative’s characterization of Paige, I am split on what I think of Hell in a Cell.

Kickoff Match: The European Union vs. Those Guys Creative Forgot

So. This match happened.

Here we have six men who have all the talent in the world but the worst booking imaginable. I can’t remember the last time I saw the so-called “King” in a relevant match. Rusev just wrapped up the most derived feud imaginable. Sheamus….well, let’s just say with their ratings a hot mess, WWE won’t be making him cash in anytime soon.

Neville was red-hot when he debuted earlier this year, fighting the likes of John Cena and putting on an absolutely stellar match with Seth Rollins. He was a superhero – thrilling crowds both live and on television. But now, he’s stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of meaningless matches that can’t even build up enough heat to create a feud. Cesaro is much the same. He is one of the best men on the WWE roster, technically and athletically, yet Vince McMahon can’t seem to keep a push going for him. It’s no fault of Cesaro: he is a star in his own right. He is completely over with crowds right now. It’s Creative that can’t seem to put enough faith in him. That’s their problem. Dolph Ziggler…he just needs to turn heel already.

But enough of that. Onto the actual match.

The match was short and sweet, a filler to hype up the crowd for the upcoming show. All six men performed well, but the real star was Cesaro, whose incredible athleticism was on full display as he rounded out the match, dizzying Barrett with a mind-blowing 20 spins right into Neville’s Red Arrow finisher.

There’s not much to analyze here, since WWE still doesn’t know what to do with these six men who all deserve better.

John Cena’s US Open Challenge

Suck it, Donald Trump.

Cena (for once) skipped the dramatics, wryly acknowledging how much we hate his endless promos before the Open Challenge itself, and got right to business. Zeb Colter entered, introducing Del Rio to a pop, and the match was underway.

Cena and Del Rio have worked together before, and put on a fairly exciting match. Del Rio’s knockout of The Champ came out of nowhere, and even though we all knew Cena would be dropping the title, the pinfall was still surprising to actually witness.

Cena’s run as US Champ has been one of the best runs of his career. The US Title desperately needed a revitalization, and Cena’s weekly defenses gave the belt legitimacy once more.

I was never too invested in Alberto Del Rio, but his return definitely surprised me, something that’s pretty hard to do. And although I was hoping to see Ambrose get another run with the US title now that he is over as hell with the WWE Universe, I’m curious to see how Del Rio handles the belt in Cena’s absence. His return raises a lot of questions, like how WWE is going to handle another name when so many of their current Superstars are underutilized, or whether or not Del Rio and Cena will have a proper feud before Cena regains the title.

Whatever happens, though, I’m sure it will be interesting to see.

Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt (Hell in a Cell Match)

Roman Reigns has done some of his best work in this feud with Bray Wyatt. It’s almost hard to believe this storyline has been going since Money in the Bank. Bray Wyatt can’t be left out of the praises either, consistently bringing his A-game despite taking a backseat in the focus of the feud to Strowman’s introduction or the constant showcase of Reigns’ strength.

This match was a full-on spotfest packed with kendo sticks and tables, but was absolutely exciting to watch nevertheless. Reigns and Wyatt’s hostility and aggression shone through their near-frenzied punches. The spots were incredible too, including Reigns being shot into propped up kendo sticks and Wyatt being tossed into a table.

Now that this rivalry is over and both Reigns and Wyatt moving on to new feuds (more on that later), I hope Creative keeps their momentum going into Survivor Series.

The New Day (sans Xavier Woods) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Tag Team Championship)

The New Day is widely recognized as the most interesting thing in the WWE right now. With most of the company’s singles talent crammed into repetitive six-man tag team matches or meaningless feuds, audiences have latched onto these three gems to keep things fresh week in and week out. They have been the perfect champs and hilarious heels, and that comedy extended into this pay-per-view.

The Dudley Boyz have certainly had better matches than this one. Aside from their both near the beginning of the match, their performance lacked the spark that made them to exciting to watch. Their mocking of Kingston and Big E was cute, but a bit out of place. That aside, they still performed decently.

Woods’ absence was keenly felt tonight. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, I suppose. However, Big E and Kingston put on a hell of a show. Kingston in particular shone, dropping both Boyz with dropkicks.

The Dudley Boyz will take the belts away from The New Day. It’s a no-brainer. Now, the only question is when.

Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella (Divas Championship)

Anyone following me on Twitter will know that I am not by any means a Nikki Bella fan. I was furious when she surpassed AJ Lee’s record, and she and her sister have never really impressed me in the ring.

That being said, Nikki put on one of the best performances of her career last night, playing the heel in ever respect. She and Charlotte absolutely brawled, going at it with ferocity that has been missing from the Divas Division since the days of Stratus and Lita. Highlight? Nikki slamming Charlotte into the apron. Charlotte sold wonderfully and it made Nikki look very powerful. Obviously this match was nowhere near the likes of Bayley vs. Banks at Takeover this summer, but it was a step in the right direction.

Most of my criticism for this match lies in the characterization of the champ. Charlotte is a damn good wrestler. She has put on stellar matches against Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Natalya. She was a good choice to oust Nikki. However, Creative has positively butchered Charlotte’s character, reducing her to Ric Flair’s daughter: a legacy she has embraced but also tried to keep separate from her own.

Charlotte needs better writing, period. If we as an audience are going to root for her, we need to be given a reason to. Highlight her competitiveness by pitting her against Sasha, who will be the champion herself in due time. Turn Paige heel for good and let them go at it, creating a feud about dominance over a division they both fought to improve instead of petty cattiness.

Those “We Want Sasha” chants won’t go away. I say it’s time The Boss got a shot at the title.

Seth Rollins vs. Demon Kane (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

Honestly, having seen the buildup to this match, did anyone expect any better?

I will praise Seth Rollins to the sun and back, but not even his in-ring prowess could save this dud of a match. It lacked electricity and intensity, highlighted when Seth’s powerbomb of Kane into the announce table didn’t even break the damn thing.

The end of the match was its saving grace. Seth executed a Frog Splash and Pedigree to get the pinfall. I also feel the need to mention that Kane looked good for a man nearing 50. Though the match itself was subpar, his performance was decent. Also, it was refreshing to see Seth win clean.

I miss the Curb Stomp too.

Something interesting I noticed going into the match was the pop Rollins got from the LA crowd. Cheers for him are growing more and more common, especially before his pay-per-view matches. I wonder if Creative is taking note of this. We all know a babyface turn is coming, but it might come sooner rather than later if they decide to capitalize on it.

Kevin Owens vs. Ryback (Intercontinental Championship)

Blink and you would’ve missed this match.

I honestly don’t have much to say about this match. I am a huge fan of both performers, Owens especially, but this feud lacks any real spark. I would rather see Neville or Cesaro challenge for this title.

Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (Hell in a Cell Match)

Bloody hell.

See what I did there?

This match was anything but PG. It got so bloody that most of the photos from the match on WWE.com are in black and white. Seriously, go and see for yourselves.

This was a prime example of simplicity being best for business. The story was simple: two guys really hate each other and have a lot to prove. And despite the fact that we were made to sit through the same promo we have been seeing since Lesnar conquered the Streak about a thousand times, it didn’t even need much buildup.

The match was brutally physical from start to finish. The Deadman looked more intimidatingly dominant than he’s looked in a long time, appearing like his old self as he issued a beatdown on Lesnar. The brawl made use of every inch of the ring: ringposts, chairs, the exposed plywood under the ring…everything. They literally tore the house down.

But even the Phenom couldn’t tame the Beast this time, after Lesnar hit him with a low blow (karma’s a bitch) followed by an F-5 for the win. The Undertaker wasn’t given much of a chance to recover even after Lesnar left, being assaulted by the Wyatt family to end the show.

A suiting end to an intense and enjoyable rivalry, this match also set up a potential Survivor Series team match for November: Team Wyatt vs. Team Undertaker. Could that bring back Demon Kane, coming to his brother’s assistance? Might some young talent, maybe a different Demon, be called up to help?

Looking Ahead

WWE’s fanservice Shield reunion last week proved one thing: The Shield is as enthralling as ever. And with dropping ratings, we might be seeing a Triple Threat for the World Heavyweight Title sooner rather than later. I’ve been under the assumption that this would be the main event of Wrestlemania 32, but now? With Seth keeping his title, I’m wondering just what Creative has in mind.